(Harrisburg) -- State Senate leaders are aiming at passing a natural gas impact fee bill by early next week. The Senate Appropriations Committee has unanimously approved sections of the measure strengthening environmental regulations. It gave the green light to a 61-page amendment, hiking penalties imposed on drillers who violate regulations, and broadening buffer zones between natural gas wells and water sources. The amendment actually strips all impact fee language out of the bill. Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati explains the parliamentary tactic is a way to buy more time for Republicans and Democrats to negotiate details of a fee structure. "It is obviously maybe the most divisive, as far as the level of the fee, the type of the fee that is imposed upon, and distribution," he says. "So in order to give everybody an opportunity to have a fair debate on that, we chose to take it out." A new impact fee plan, based on Governor Corbett’s proposal, will likely be introduced on Monday. The goal is to amend it into the bill in time for a final Senate vote on Tuesday. For more on natural gas drilling and its effects on the commonwealth, visit StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among witf, NPR and WHYY in Philadelphia.
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